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DOJ issues proposed rule to reclassify marijuana

The Biden administration announced Thursday that it is officially moving forward with a proposal to reclassify marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III.

The Department of Justice has submitted the notice of proposed rulemaking to the Office of the Federal Register and, if approved, the deferral would limit the penalty for those in possession of marijuana when it is a federal crime.

The proposal is subject to a 60-day public comment period. After that, the Drug Enforcement Administration administrator may assign an administrative law judge to review the evidence and make a final scheduling recommendation.

ABC News reported earlier this month that the DEA planned to reschedule marijuana.

President Joe Biden, in a video posted Thursday on X, touted the proposal as “an important step toward eliminating long-standing inequities.”

“Look, no one should be imprisoned for simply using or possessing marijuana. Period,” he said. “Far too many lives have been upended because of an ineffective approach to marijuana, and I am committed to righting these wrongs.”

Since the passage of the Controlled Substances Act in 1971, marijuana has been a Schedule I drug, meaning it is in the same category as more deadly drugs like heroin and methamphetamine.

Schedule III drugs are defined by the DEA as those “with moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence,” such as “Tylenol with codeine, ketamine, anabolic steroids (and) testosterone.”

PHOTO: Nikko Griffin, left, and Tyra Patterson, address arriving voters on several issues, including Question 2, legalizing recreational marijuana, in a parking lot during in-person early voting in Cincinnati, on November 2, 2023.

Nikko Griffin, left, and Tyra Patterson, address arriving voters on several issues, including Question 2, the legalization of recreational marijuana, in a parking lot during in-person early voting in Cincinnati on 2 November 2023.

Carolyn Kaster/AP

In October, the White House asked the Department of Health and Human Services to study whether marijuana could be rescheduled.

“In 2023, HHS conducted a scientific and medical evaluation of marijuana based on a comprehensive review of the data available at the time and recommended that marijuana be moved to Schedule III,” the proposed rule states. .

In an August letter to the DEA Administrator, HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Rachel L. Levine recommended that marijuana be controlled under Schedule III.

ABC News

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